Two Villanova University Students Chosen for Fulbright-MITACS Globalink Canada

Lauren Iskander (L) and Sophia Pellechia (R) have been selected for Fulbright-MITACS Globalink awards.
Lauren Iskander (L) and Sophia Pellechia (R) have been selected for Fulbright-MITACS Globalink awards.

VILLANOVA, Pa. (May 31, 2023)—Two Villanova University students have been selected for Fulbright-MITACS Globalink awards to pursue advanced summer research internships at Canadian universities. Offered by Fulbright Canada, the foundation for educational exchange between Canada and the U.S., the Fulbright-MITACS Globalink program provides the opportunity for exceptional U.S. undergraduates to spend 10 to 12 weeks in Canada on an academic and cultural summer exchange program. Lauren Iskander, a Chemical Engineering Major from West Orange, N.J., will spend her summer research internship at Polytechnique Montréal in Montreal, while Sophia Pellechia, an Honors Biochemistry major from Clearwater Beach, Fla., will conduct her research at Laval University in Québec City.

“This internship will allow Lauren to put into practice what she’s learning in the classroom while also serving as ambassador of Villanova Engineering,” says Michele Marcolongo, PhD, PE, the Drosdick Endowed Dean of the College of Engineering. “I am so proud of Lauren and excited for her opportunity to advance her research in Chemical and Biological Engineering.”

“I am thrilled for Sophia,” said Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, the William and Julia Moulden Dean, Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This is an outstanding opportunity for her to augment her current research at Villanova with an international experience. Working in Dr. Sachs’ lab certainly helped prepare Sophia, and I am grateful to all our faculty who invest in their students, encouraging them to pursue prestigious academic scholarships and research opportunities such as this.”

Participants who are selected for the highly competitive Fulbright-MITACS Globalink program will participate in an advanced research project in their area of interest under the supervision of a faculty member at a highly regarded Canadian university. Students will have the opportunity to take part in professional training, as well as experience cultural, social and recreational life in Canada.

Lauren Iskander ’25 COE of West Orange, N.J., is a Presidential Scholar and rising junior Chemical Engineering major at Villanova. She was a participant in the Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows Summer Program, and the Villanova Match Research Program for First Year Students. She also was recently named president of the Engineering Student Council. This summer, Iskander will be conducting research under the tutelage of Dr. Marco Bonizzato at Polytechnique Montréal where she will develop implantable neuromodulation interventions to improve hand movements after paralysis. She hopes to apply this knowledge as she prepares for a career in academia, medicine or biological engineering.  

Sophia Pellechia ’24 CLAS of Clearwater Beach, Fla., is a Presidential Scholar and rising senior Honors Biochemistry major and Studio Art minor. Since participating in the Villanova Match Research Program for First Year Students, she has been a member of Dr. Benjamin Sachs’ laboratory, and she will be doing her honors senior thesis under his mentorship. Pellechia is also a firefighter at Bryn Mawr Fire Company. This summer, Pellechia will work in Dr. Jessica Deslauriers’ laboratory at Laval University where she will explore the biomarkers for post-traumatic stress disorder and how it can be applied towards personalized psychiatric medicine. Pellechia’s work in this area will be beneficial in her future career as a physician-scientist.

For more information, visit the Fulbright-MITACS Globalink program website.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit